COOPERSTOWN — Will 2013 be the year New York lawmakers embrace legislation authorizing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to seriously ill patients?
Supporters of allowing marijuana to be prescribed to sick people say there has never been a better opportunity for the proposal to pass.
Getting such legislation through the Democrat-controlled Assembly has never been a problem. The big obstacle for medical marijuana advocates has always been the state Senate, now dominated by an amalgam of Republicans and a breakaway bloc of self-described “independent” Democrats.
One of those Democrats working in league with the GOP, Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, is sponsoring legislation that would put stricter controls on medical marijuana than previous measures that were bottled up in committees.
Savino’s bill, which is backed by the New York State Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association, would limit the dispensing of legal marijuana to state residents with a severe debilitating or life-threatening medical condition.
Her colleague, Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said he is open to considering the legislation but wants to review all of its details first to ensure there are sufficiently stringent controls over how it would be prescribed and dispensed.
“We’ve had proposals in the past that were way too wide open — for instance, allowing people to grow it in their backyard,” he said.
He said would also like to hear from the federal Food and Drug Administration on its position toward the legislation.
“Anecdotally, people have told me that their only source of relief from pain is through marijuana,” Seward said. “I could only support the use of medical marijuana for patients with chronic and terminal conditions. I am open to looking into the issue, but it would have to be very tightly controlled. I wouldn’t support legalizing marijuana under the guise of medical marijuana.”